Longevity Secret #1

longevity Apr 04, 2019

Since yesterday was my birthday, I thought it would be a good time to talk about longevity. 🎉

This is a topic I’ve been looking into a lot lately because my retreat in Costa Rica will take place in a “blue zone” - one of just a handful of places around the world where groups of people are living past 100.

So after doing a lot of “hacking” into longevity, and reading countless “longevity lists” that all had general, underwhelming suggestions like sleeping more, and eating broccoli, the most compelling research that I found is The Longevity Project. 

And their findings are so interesting that I didn’t want to summarize them into a simple list with little context. Instead, I’ve decided to make this into a blog series so I can give each finding the proper attention.
 

Why The Longevity Project? 


The Longevity Project is the most extensive study of long life ever conducted. It's based on eight decades of research examining hundreds of people, with similar backgrounds, over the course of their entire lives to see which characteristics truly influence their behaviors, and therefore their life-span.

It began in 1921, when Dr. Terman began studying 1500 children - examining everything from their personality traits, to how many books were in their houses, how active they were in playtime, and how happy their parents’ marriages were. He continued the study until he died in 1956, and then it was taken on by others and the book was published in 2011.

With that said… let’s dive into my first favorite finding of theirs. I hope you find it helpful.
 

Secret #1: Be Conscientious.


The findings of the study made it clear that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness - being prudent, persistent, well-organized, detail oriented and responsible. This surpassed other personality traits like cheerfulness or having a sociable personality. 



People who demonstrated this behavior were less likely to be clinically depressed, feel anxious, have high blood pressure, or have tuberculosis, diabetes, joint problems or strokes.

Why?

  1. Conscientious people do more to protect their health and engage in less risky behavior - like drinking too much, smoking, driving too fast, or abusing drugs.
  2. Having a more conscientious personality leads you into healthier situations and relationships. 

The reason why I like this “hack” so much is because rather than just telling you to drink less, or be healthy… by focusing on “being conscientious” you’re actually laying the true foundation of longevity. It’s like getting to the root cause of a disease as opposed to just managing the symptoms. 

So is it possible to become more conscientious? 
 

Yes. Here are some things you can start with:

  1. Make a plan and be prepared. Think through your ideas, goals, and plans for the future. And be prepared for things - whether it’s your upcoming meeting or your family visit. Preparing properly will give you a sense of stability and confidence.
  2. Do one thing at a time. Work on staying focused and doing complete work. Avoid being scatter-brained and multi-tasking. Ask yourself - am I persistent in seeing my work through to the end?
  3. Keep your space clean. Avoid making a mess of things. A messy environment creates a messy-mind. Put things back in their place and get rid of things you don’t need.
  4. Slow down. This is where meditation can be really helpful. Slowing yourself down - literally walking slower, taking time to prepare meals, not rushing off the phone - will help you feel more present and in control of your life.
  5. Follow a schedule and create order in your life. Don’t confuse this with being anal, or inflexible. Creating order - waking up at the same time every day, having family dinner every night - gives you a sense of control and stability in your life. And having order gives you less to think about as it becomes second nature. 
  6. Be mindful, careful and even thrifty in your spending. Conscientious people don’t overspend and keep meticulous track of what they do spend.


So while conscientiousness is a personality trait that some are naturally born with, there ARE ways that you can learn to be more conscientious in your own life. 

One more thing, living long doesn’t necessarily mean living happily. And these longevity suggestions are tied to long life and good health - but they aren’t necessarily tied to increased life satisfaction (a completely different metric.)

This means, that if at any point, these longevity secrets aren’t making you feel better about your life or yourself, you may need to make a change.

For example, don’t be so prepared or overly organized to the point where it causes you stress. Being conscientious is meant to make you feel more in control, more empowered, and more present in your life. 

If you want to learn more about longevity, health and happiness that's what my upcoming retreat is all about 😉

You can learn more about my retreat here.


Also, stay tuned for the next “longevity hack” in this new blog series.

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